Welcome to CS 294-115 Algorithmic Foundations of Human-Robot Interaction, Fall 2015 (CCN 27519)!

*If you are looking for the Fall 2016 offering, click here.*

Instructor: Anca Dragan (anca at berkeley dot edu)

Lectures: TuThu, 2:30-4:00, Soda 310


As robot autonomy advances, it becomes more and more important to develop algorithms that are not solely functional, but also mindful of the end-user. How should the robot move differently when it's moving in the presence of a human? How should it learn from user feedback? How should it assist the user in accomplishing day to day tasks? These are the questions we will investigate in this course.

We will contrast existing algorithms in robotics with studies in human-robot interaction, discussing how to tackle interaction challenges in an algorithmic way, with the goal of enabling generalization across robots and tasks. We will also sharpen research skills: giving good talks, experimental design, statistical analysis, literature surveys.

Format: This course combines lectures with paper presentations by the students, encouraging both fundamental knowledge acquisition as well as open-ended discussions. Each student will also carry out an individual research project OR an in-depth literature survey.

Learning objectives: At the end of this course, you will have gained both knowledge/abilities related to human-robot interaction, as well as to research and presentation skills:

    [Human-robot interaction abilities]
  • tease out the intricacies of developing algorithms that support HRI
  • apply optimization techniques to generate motion for HRI
  • contrast and relate model-based and model-free learning from demonstration
  • apply Bayesian inference and learning techniques to enhance coordination in collaborative tasks
  • develop a basic understanding of verbal and non-verbal communication
  • ground algorithmic HRI in the relvant psychology background
    [Research skills]
  • communicate scientific content to a peer audience
  • analyze and diagram the literature related to a particular topic
  • critique a scientific paper's experimental design and analysis

Prerequisites: There are no official prerequisites but a knowledge of probability and multivariate calculus is expected.


  • Student Presentations (30%): Each student will get the opportunity to present multiple times. You will be graded based on your level of insight into the material (including how well you answer questions from us and the rest of the class), how well you relate the paper to other papers and lecture material, as well as how well you present the material to the class. There will be 2 presenters for each paper: a PRO presenter and a CON presenter. We will have 2-3 papers per lecture.
  • Quizzes (20%): We will have a short (10 min) quiz before each lecture/set of presentations, to test the understanding of the material. These quizzes are not meant to be onerous, but are meant to ensure that you read carefully through the papers. They are graded with a check, a minus, or a plus for particularly good answers.
  • Final Project (35%): You have a choice between a research project, and an in-depth literature survey (~50 relevant papers, organized by different features, identifying gaps in the state of the art). You will have a final presentation, and submit a proposal along the way (1 page) and a report (up to 5 pages) at the end.
  • Participation (10%): Be engaged! Ask and answer questions!
  • Scribing (5%): You will take turns compiling PDFs of lecture notes. The scribe template is here. Send an email to anca at berkeley dot edu with the tex and pdf.
  • Expectations: You can expect me to start and end class on time, devise quizzes that adequately cover the material, and grade your quizzes and send you feedback on your presentations in a timely manner. In turn, I can expect you to come to class on time, be attentive and engaged in class, and refrain from using laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices during class. Please take notes, and ask questions when something is not clear. I also expect you to spend an adequate amount of time on the readings each week (at least 3 hours), and spend 60 hours on your final project.

    Important dates:

  • 28 Oct - 1 Page Proposal (by this time you should have a clear idea of what you want to do and what your key insight is in the case of a project, and how you will select and classify papers in the case of a literature survey); Come talk to me about your project, especially if you'd like us to write a paper on it.
  • 1 & 3 Dec - Final Presentations
  • 13 Dec - Final Reports (start gearing up for a paper submission)
  • Schedule: Find a tentative schedule here.

    Below you can find notes from previous classes and the assigned readings for the next lectures.

  • # Day Date Topic Reading Scribes Notes
    1 Th 27 Aug The What, Why, and How of Algorithmic HRI no mandatory reading PANNA, NEGAR pdf
    2 Tu 1 Sept Motion Planning (lecture) no mandatory reading
  • Lozano-Perez "Spatial Planning: A Configuration Space Approach"
  • Kavraki "Analysis of Probabilistic Roadmaps for Path Planning"
  • Lavalle "Randomized Kinodynamic Planning"
  • Hsu "Path Planning in Expansive Configuration Spaces"
  • Peggy, Samaneh pdf
    3 Th 3 Sept Trajectory Optimization (lecture) no mandatory reading
  • Zucker "CHOMP: Covariant Hamiltonian Optimization for Motion Planning"
  • Rocky, Chelsea pdf
    4 Tu 8 Sept Trajectory Optimization ctd (lecture) no reading Abhishek, Jaime pdf
    5 Th 10 Sept Optimal Motion Algorithms (papers)
  • To start off, we will have only one student per paper. Next lectures will consist of PRO/CON teams as discussed.
  • "Elastic Bands: Connecting Path Planning and Control" (1993) pdf [Horia; 25min]
  • "Finding Locally Optima, Collision Free Trajectories with Sequentional Qadratic Programming" (2014) pdf [Dylan; 25min]
  • no scribes
    6 Tu 15 Sept Optimal Motion in HRI (papers)
  • "Planning human-aware motions using a sampling-based costmap planner" (2011) link [Pro - Evan; 20min][Con - Kiwoo; 10min]
  • "Generating Human-Like Motion for Robots" (2013) pdf [Pro - Negar; 20 min] [Con - Justin; 10 min]
  • no scribes
    7 Th 17 Sept HRI in Industry (lecture) no reading no scribes
    [Tools of HRI]
    8 Tu 22 Sept Experimental Design (lecture) no reading Jessica, Andrew
    9 Th 24 Sept Experimental Design Ctd. (lecture) no reading Jessica, Andrew pdf
    1 Tu 29 Sept Experimental Design Ctd (lecture) no reading Amy, Kiwoo pdf
    [Learning from Demonstration]
    10 Th 1 Oct Learning from Demonstration (lecture) no mandatory reading
  • "Maximum Margin Planning" (2006) link
  • "Learning Attractor Landscapes for Learning Motor Primitives" (2003) pdf
  • "Movement Primitives via Optimization" (2015) pdf
  • Rohan, Evan pdf
    11 Tu 6 Oct LfD in Psychology (papers)
  • "Understanding Intentions of Others" (1995) pdf [Pro - Dexter; 20min][Con - Eric; 10min]
  • 2 short papers: "Infant Imitation After a 1-Week Delay" (1988) pdf1 ; "Rational Imitation in Preverbal Infants" (2002) pdf2 [Pro - Christopher; 20min][Con - Peggy; 10min]
  • no scribes
    12 Th 8 Oct LfD Algorithms (papers)
  • "Maximum Entropy IRL" (2010) pdf [Pro - Chelsea; 20 min][Con - Amy; 10 min]
  • "A Reduction of Imitation Learning and Structured Prediciton to No-Regret Online Learning" (2010) pdf [Pro - Michael; 20 min][Con - Zoe; 10 min]
  • no scribes
    13 Tu 13 Oct LfD in HRI (papers)
  • "Trajectories and Keyframes for Kinesthetic Teaching" (2012) pdf [Pro - Andrew; 15 min][Con - Sandy; 5min]
  • "Designing Robot Learners that Ask Good Questions" (2012)pdf[Pro - Pablo; 15min][Con - Chang; 5min]
  • "Using Perspective Taking to Learn from Ambiguous Demonstrations" (2006) pdf[Pro - Rocky; 15min][Con - David; 5min]
  • no scribes
    14 Th 15 Oct Intent Inference and Expression(lecture) no mandatory reading
  • "Planning Based Prediction for Pedestrians" (2009)pdf
  • "Generating Legible Motion (2013)" pdf
  • Dylan, Horia pdf
    15 Tu 20 Oct Intent in Psychology (papers) "Understanding and Sharing Intentions" (2005) pdf [Pro - Jess; 15 min][Con - Rohan; 5min]
  • "Obsessed with Goals" (2007) pdf [Pro - Erik; 15 min][Con - Alex; 5min]
  • 16 Th 22 Oct Intent Algorithms (papers)
  • "Robot Navigation in Dense Human Crowds" (2012) pdf [Pro - Aaron; 15 min][Con - Jaime; 5min]
  • "Predicing Human Reaching Motion" (2015) pdf [Pro - Eric; 15 min][Con - Dexter; 5min]
  • 17 Tu 27 Oct Intent in HRI (papers)
  • "Improving Robot Readability" (2011) pdf [Pro - Peggy; 15 min][Con - Christopher; 5min]
  • "Anticipation in Robot Motion" (2011) pdf [Pro - Amy; 15 min][Con - Chelsea; 5min]
  • "Communication of Intent in Assistive Free Flyers" (2014) pdf [Pro - Zoe; 15 min][Con - Michael; 5min]
  • 18 Th 29 Oct Natural Language (guest lecture: Dan Klein) Christopher, David pdf
    19 Tu 3 Nov Natural Language Algorithms (papers)
  • "Knowledge and Implicature" (2013) pdf
  • [Pro - Dylan; 15 min][Con - Horia; 5min]
  • "Asking for Help Using Inverse Semantics" (2014) pdf [Pro - Jess; 15 min][Con - Kiwoo; 5min]
  • "Towards Understanding Natural Language Directions (2010)" pdf [Pro - David; 15 min][Con - Rocky; 5min]
  • 20 Th 5 Nov Natural Language in HRI (papers)
  • "Simon Plays Simon Says" (2011) pdf [Pro - Erik; 15 min][Con - Jaime; 5min]
  • "Rhetorical Robots" (2013) link[Pro - Sandy; 15 min][Con - Andrew; 5min]
  • 21 Tu 10 Nov Other Communication Channels (papers)
  • "Nonverbal Leackage in Robots" (2009) link [Pro - Rohan; 15 min][Con - Negar; 5min]
  • "Conversational Gaze Aversion" (2009) link [Pro - Jaime; 15 min][Con - Jess; 5min]
  • [Collaboration]
    22 Th 12 Nov Collaboration in Psychology (papers)
  • "Shared Cooperative Activity" (1992) pdf [Pro - Alex; 15 min][Con - Erik; 5min]
  • "Mixed Initiative Systems" (2007) pdf [Pro - Chelsea; 15 min][Con - Evan; 5min]
  • "A Minimal Architecture for Joint Action" (2010) pdf [Pro - Michael; 15 min][Con - Aaron; 5min]
  • 23 Tu 17 Nov Collaboration Algorithms (papers)
  • "Chaski" (2009) link [Pro - Rocky; 15 min][Con - Eric; 5min]
  • "CrossTraining" (2013) pdf [Pro - Jaime; 15 min][Con - Zoe; 5min]
  • 24 Th 19 Nov No Class
    25 Tu 24 Nov Collaboration in HRI (papers)
  • "Coordination Mechanisms for Human-Robot Collaboration" (2013) pdf [Pro - Amy; 15 min][Con - Sandy; 5min]
  • "Evaluating Fluency in Human-Robot Collaboration" (2013) pdf [Pro - Chang; 15 min][Con - Evan; 5min]
  • 26 Th 26 Nov No Class, Holiday
    27 Tu 1 Dec Project Presentations Amy, Rohan+Christopher, Alex, Eric, Jessica, Zoe, Rocky, Dexter, Evan
    28 Th 3 Dec Project Presentations Dylan, Peggy, David, Chelsea, Erik, Michael, Jaime+Chang, Sandy, Aaron, Andrew, Negar

    For more readings, check out a few other class websites (this is by no means a comprehensive list):

  • Cooperative Machines (MIT)
  • Human-Robot Interaction (GaTech)
  • Human-Robot Interaction (UW)
  • Manipulation Algorithms (CMU)